From “TÁR” and “The Banshees of Inisherin” to “Afterson” and “Triangle of Sadness,” it’s a special replay of the studio’s make-or-break summer movie season.
If the specialty theater market is to make a comeback, it will never have a better chance than now.
This month will see a glut of critically acclaimed theatrical debuts – more than we’ve seen in three years. These include “TÁR” (Focus), “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight), “Afterson” (A24), “Triangle of Sadness” (Neon), “Till” (United Artists), “Decision to Leave” (MUBI) ), and “Armageddon Time” (Focus).
All will be open in limited play, some will be more extensive, but whatever release patterns there are represents an important period for the particular industry – distributors and exhibitors alike. For this sector of the business, it’s a replay of the studios’ make-or-break summer movie season.
The big year-end rush of awards-season titles is an annual tradition, but the current market doesn’t work like it used to. Distributors have become much more tolerant about creative scheduling, But this year saw a major decline in the once-reliable documentary genre. Only Neon’s “Moonage Daydream” and “Fire of Love” and SPC’s “Hallelujah” earned more than $1 million. In 2019, eight documentaries have earned more than $3 million to date; Neon’s “Apollo 11” grossed $9 million. Among this year’s openers, “Worst Person in the World” was the only subtitled film to gross more than $1 million. (Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers” made 2.3 million dollars in 2022). Today, we see many subtitled films more generally – but they include films like “RRR” and other national cinema populist releases.
This year, the films of the top specialty companies have earned approximately 350 million dollars. This is similar to the same period in 2019, which means that a significant portion of the total for the year has actually increased. For independent exhibitors, it’s a mixed blessing.
A24 and Focus accounted for two-thirds of this revenue, with Sony-owned Crunchyroll trailing some distance behind in third place. All are set to play 2022’s biggest and biggest specialty movies, led by A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at One,” much of their success in big releases with access to top Chinese theaters. .
The next few months should be different as players like Neon, Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, and others return to form, but A24 and Focus will still be at or near the top.
According to exhibition sources, “TÁR” will move to PVOD three weeks after its wide release on October 28. A24 and Sony Pictures Classics usually have longer windows, usually 45-90 days.
Here’s hoping they break the 2022 release at the end of the year, especially because it’s not a high bar. Only four films with limited openings — “Everything,” “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” all from A24, and Neon’s 2021 debut “The Worst Person in the World” — from $3 million. Earn more. Future titles need to improve on that.
For many independent theaters, it can be make or break. Most of the survivors; several renegotiated leases; Some create membership programs or lower costs (and showtimes). They benefited from “Top Gun: Maverick” and other studio films that attracted older audiences. They sometimes share in VOD revenue.
But to progress, they need to see more results in 2019 and according to “Parasite,” which earned $55 million and won the 2020 Oscar for best picture. This weekend, we will begin to learn that this is possible.
Leading up to “TÁR” and “Triangle of Sadness,” we’ll begin publishing Sunday’s comprehensive analysis of special grosses, in addition to covering the top 10 releases. We will review release strategies, including whether to launch a platform of films (opening initially in New York and Los Angeles, such as “TÁR”) or open in limited release (fewer than 10 cities, which Naveen plans is for “triangle of sadness”) and how quickly they grow. Will the multi-hundred or multi-thousand theatrical releases continue (mostly with poor under $1,ooo per theater averages)? We’ll compare recent and historical numbers overall, and how quickly movies transition to home availability.